I write about joy. Sometimes it is contagious joy that erupts from the gut and sometimes it is a barely there smile that leaks from the heart. Regardless of the form, I seek the light that comes from joy in most moments with an intentionality that strives to hold at bay the dreaded fall into the dark.
It is a daily practice, a honed discipline, a concerted effort born from a season of difficulty. Some days are harder than others to capture the seemingly elusive joy, and quite frankly, this week finds me struggling to hold onto what I can.
The young are dying. Just this week, one husband has passed away and another with little children seems to be on that same journey. A human concept of unfairness and unjust timeliness that can astound and paralyze, all the while trying to respond by creating in our own lives a safe and happy home.
But this isn't our home. It was never meant to be.
We toil away our days gathering earthly comforts to solidify our importance and our existence . Somehow believing that we can protect our family from the inevitable, misguidedly attempting to control what has been promised to occur. Ironically, seeking security in this life that will only leave one with feeling more insecure.
For the past few months, I have read detailed accounts or been personally involved with the two young men facing death with the most faithful of postures. Shoulders squared and standing tall, they confronted frightening illnesses with a courage and a hope that few will understand completely until physically facing the experience of final days.
And they did it with joy. The kind that comes from knowing Christ and fully embracing and looking forward to the long awaited reunion. Only wavering a bit when thinking of the sadness that will be left behind, but even then, with an all-surpassing peace that assured others of the Source that provided such confidence.
In an email written only a week ago, my friend who is in the final stage of his illness, said this to me:
"Don't be sad for me, Joni. I'm going to paradise."
I'm not sad for him because I know he will travel to a place that is perfect beyond comprehension. But I am sad for his faithful and courageous wife. I'm sad for his three young children. I'm sad for his family and loved ones. And I'm sad for me.
However, I find comfort that lives were changed in the process. Priorities re-examined during witness to the pain. Perspectives of purpose aligned closer to the only will that matters. Hope held onto because the fear of death was defeated on a wooden cross.
These two young men - husbands, sons and friends - approached their days here as a temporary visit on their way towards an eternal home. To paraphrase what was so succinctly and truthfully written by the young and faithful new widow of one: the love for their God outweighed their love for life.
And that helps me again find my joy.